PDA

View Full Version : A Look Back on a Year of Memories (LONG)


Jeff_in_KC
10-05-2006, 11:52 AM
One of our Brothers recently pointed out that this weekend marks the one year anniversary of the first contest in which Big Creek BBQ competed, the American Royal, and that a post reflecting upon our first year might be interesting. While we have decided to pass on the Royal this year, we will be out there helping the MoKan Meatheads get their Friday dinner ready, pit bitching or whatever needs done. Not entering ourselves has, in fact, given me time to reflect on what has transpired over the last unforgettable year. I hope that this post truly is interesting as suggested and that it is of some value to someone, maybe a team just starting out or maybe to a seasoned veteran in helping them recall great memories of when they themselves were just starting out in this addiction.

When I look back on things, it really does just seem like yesterday that I visited Team Q at Warsaw and got hooked on competition barbeque. In fact, it was April of 2005. I met Brother Spice, Fredbird and Bags, along with Steve only because the crappie fishing was bad that day. I decided to go check out the barbeque contest. I was probably in the way but somehow, I was enlisted to hold a knife or spatula or something as the brisket was sliced so that the slice would not fall over. Soon after I helped them break down camp and went to the awards with them. Cool stuff! I was done for! Soon after, KCquer and I were discussing doing a team. Well, long story short, as I had previously posted and as most who knew him were aware, Scott was very meticulous and didn't make a move without checking things out from every angle. I, on the other hand, throw myself into things I think look to be fun and worthwhile. Things worked out differently than I planned and a co-worker agreed to cook with me instead. We entered the American Royal and it was game on!

I recall being concerned as to whether or not we'd even get a site as we had entered so late. It was like waiting for Christmas as a kid to get that notification that we had been assigned a spot! When it came, I felt like we had really accomplished something already. What did I know? Big Creek BBQ had become a reality only a month before and now we were included in the world's largest barbeque contest, the World Series of Barbeque!

Now it was time to get serious... AND spend a ton of cash! The smokers were no problem. I had my Brinkman Smoke King Deluxe and had gone out and purchased a Weber Kettle and a Weber Smoky Mountain. My teammate already had a Good-One patio smoker. We were good there. But the typical "stuff" you need at a contest was another story. I figured Dollar General Stores was the place to go to get stuff cheap. So I invaded the local one with $300 in cash and a list. An hour later, I emerged with probably more than I'd ever need but yet not all of it. I got all my cleaning supplies, paper products for the Friday night dinner, aluminum pans, shakers for rubs, ash and trash cans, etc. I continued to pick up stuff here and there up until the Royal.

Obviously you can't cook your first contest without practicing. We commenced to doing that every weekend for about six weeks! We put out some good stuff and some really bad stuff. Recipes were tweaked and tried again. My wife was sick of barbeque before we ever showed up at the Royal. I an quite positive that I drove the competition guys here at our site nuts with all my questions, concerns, practice results and general excitement. But I wouldn't have even made it through turn-in times if it hadn't been for the help I received here from my Brothers. I am still thankful to you all for your help and patience during that time! I know I rubbed on the nerves of some but hey, what are "kid Brothers" for anyway?

Probably my biggest error back then was the fact that I was claiming I was going to win the Royal, in hind sight a really dumb thing to say. :oops: However, at that particular time, we were going through some seminars at my office where the instructor was basically preaching the "power of positive thinking" doctrine. We were told to set goals, focus on them, visualize ourselves accomplishing them. And we were supposed to never say "I think I can" or "Maybe we'll do it". We were told not to let anything other than accomplishing the goals come into our minds and to act as if we'd already accomplished the goal. Hmmmm, I thought maybe it'll work for barbeque contests. So I set out to win the Royal. Obviously I couldn't tell anyone "Well, we're going to TRY to do well." That would mess it all up because basically, you get what you claim. Funny thing is, when I VERY FIRST started thinking about the Royal and knew we were officially in, I made the comment to someone that if we beat 75 to 100 teams, we would probably be satisfied. Guess what, brothers... we finished 400th out of 475 teams. Basically, I got what I FIRST said. Plus, I don't think I ever REALLY believed in my mind I was going to win anything! We got our asses handed to us big time. And in going back and looking at photos of our turn-in boxes from the Royal... holy crap, talk about BAD! Wow! Despite all this, we had fun. We invited friends and family to come have dinner with us on Friday night. That went great. The biggest concern was stuck pork butts that were around 150 degrees from 4am til around 8am when I decided to call Phil on the cell (hey, it was 9am in New York!) and ask advice. While on the phone with Phil, the butts "broke" and started rising in temp!

Prior to the Royal, we had also signed up to cook at the DeSoto, Kansas contest two weeks later. This one was only 30 teams and was not near the party that the Royal is. I decided I liked this kind of contest so much better! You could see all the people you knew and there was a lot less stuff going on that distracted us. We didn't know we were on the "dark side" at the Royal and I had witnessed no less than five fights, people pissing wherever they felt like it, drunk people walking in and helping themselves to our food without asking. It was a mess. DeSoto, on the other hand, was a refreshing change. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We met a few more good folks and had a lot of fun. During the awards, unfortunately, they only called the top five in each category but afterwards, we found out we placed tenth in chicken and 15th overall! That tenth in chicken got us our first appearance on the KCBS Web site results pages!

We thought we were done for our first season until that next Monday, I got a phone call from a girl at a meat company down at Harrisonville who was calling local teams asking them if they were interested in cooking a small, non-sanctioned contest that was going to use KCBS rules and scoring. I ran the idea past Poobah who told me for $100 entry fee, I should get in all the contests I could before next year because it seemed to take about six contests under your belt to really make things start to click. I decided to do it and out of eleven teams, we finished a poor 7th. But we got our first ever call by getting a 4th place plaque in ribs! We called it a season and packed up for the year.

During the off season, we were pretty busy. I thought about barbeque constantly! Our activities included putting together a team Web site in October, attending a KCBS rules meeting for cooks in November, attending the KCBS awards banquet and becoming a CBJ in January, deciding upon and ordering a Spicewine smoker in February, having our logo done in February and signing up to help out with the Kookers Kare charity cooking event in March. I couldn't wait for April to arrive! However, the team was about to transition into something completely different.

My teammate's wife joined him in real estate during the BBQ off season and she basically told him that they were going to concentrate on their careers and there would be no time for barbeque contests, at least not until late summer. I was now scrambling for help! That's when my wife stepped up and got really involved. Tammy had been at all three contests in 2005 and knew the deal. She was already a runner for two of the three. My five year old daughter had also cooked the Kids Q at Harrisonville and had won a plaque there also for third place. So when the first contest of this year arrived (Osage City, Kansas in mid April), instead of a "guys weekend" of barbeque and beer I had originally envisioned, Big Creek BBQ had become a family outing. And to this day, I don't regret that or wish it had been different. In a way, I think it's better to have my wife involved in it because she understands and looks forward to it and never questions things like she might if I was running off with the guys to cook and drink all the time! She questions how we could do things better next time. So we show up at Osage City with the three of us, Taylor being entered in the Kids Q there. We had some help from Brother Todd (HawgsnHeifers) who was wanting to check out how a barbeque contest went on. At Osage City, we ended up 4th in chicken and got a trophy and a paycheck, our first ever!

I won't go into detail on all of our contests for this first full year but I want to mention Warsaw, our second one... it rained. And rained a lot. In fact, it started raining mid-morning on Friday and never quit until around 8am on Saturday. We were all flooded out! It was a horrible experience but in the end, it was all good. I wasn't about to pack it in because I knew Wayne, Bob, Andy and Jay would NEVER let me hear the end of it had I done so. So we toughed it out. In all, it was a good experience because we got 3rd in brisket and 3rd in chicken and 6th overall out of 34 teams. We also met and mentored some new friends who are now Brethren: Bubba and Jeff's BBQ. It was their first ever contest. You guys were hilarious! You really were clueless (as most of us are when we start). And I say that basically to point out that from April in Warsaw to now, Bubba and Jeff have become a team to be reckoned with in KCBS contests! Those two guys can flat out cook! I was there when they won first in chicken at Sedalia and I am proud as hell of them and what they have accomplished this year! Bubba doesn't post much here but I do get the opportunity to visit with him on the phone every so often. In fact, he just called as I was writing this post. They're both damned good guys and about as down to earth as you'd ever find.

Anyway, back to our first year, to summarize, we have experienced what I would consider a lot of success for a rookie team. In chicken, we have a 1st, 3rd and 4th. In ribs, we have a 7th and 9th. In pork, we have a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. In brisket, we have a 1st, 3rd and 4th. We also got a 4th in beans and a 5th in sausage. Overall, out of ten contests (with one yet to go), we have a 3rd (44 teams), 4th (35 teams), 6th (34 teams), 10th (56 teams) and a 12th (76 teams). There has only been one contest in which we failed to get a call (The Great American BBQ - 206 teams). Back in April, I would have never expected this kind of success. In addition (and probably more importantly), our daughter has won four awards in Kids Q contests, including a first place at Laurie, Missouri! That was my proudest moment of our first full season!

So what have I learned? I've learned that some contests are run extremely well and some not so well. I can watch out for those in the future. I've learned humility as we experienced some mid season lows after some early highs. What comes to you in this "sport" can quickly go away, no matter how good you think your stuff was. And that brings up another fact: just when you think you've turned in the best stuff you've ever cooked, the judges will disagree. And when you think your stuff is crap, you'll get multiple calls during the awards. I've learned I take too much stuff to contests. Just yesterday, Steph from Tom and Josh's Orgamic Slabs told me "Downsize, man!" She's been saying this since they were near us at Sedalia in June. I keep trying. Maybe this last contest, Steph! I've always been one to take too much stuff whether it be vacations, fishing trips, whatever. Old habits are hard to break but I'm trying! I've learned set up and take down at contests are tough when it's just two people, one being a small 4' 10" wife! I have learned a ton about how a turn-in box should look. Basically, FILL THAT BOX WITH MEAT! Once we started doing that, our scores went up. And I've learned a lot about cooking things consistently. You have to find what works and keep doing it EXACTLY like that. One quote that sticks in my mind comes from a GMC commercial that's been running since football season started up. "Amateurs work until they get it right. Professionals work until they can't get it wrong." I think that quote applies to competitive barbeque. You look at guys like Brother Rod (KC Pellethead) and Bar B Quau who just do nothing but win and you know they've worked until they can't get it wrong! That's my goal... one meat category at a time! I think we're there with pork and close with chicken. Brisket is nearing that area but ribs... damned ribs ruin us almost every time! That we HAVE to change if we ever want to take the next step. Probably the most important thing I personally have learned is the value of friendship in this "sport". It is amazing how others will go out of their way to help you, whether you left something at home you needed, you have a problem that pops up, you run out of something, or just to give you advice. And I realize that I need to make every effort to return the favor by passing on whatever I can to those who need something. That's what is so unique about this brand of competition. That's why when you don't win, you can get so excited to see your friends win! And I will say this... Tammy and I have been in the barbeque circuit for one year now. In that time, we have made more real friends than we had outside of barbeque in all the years in this area. I am a home-body and have always kept my circle of friends small. But this year is different. I can't count the number of good friends I have made on all the fingers and toes I have. And over the last two years, I have met close to thirty of my brothers here at this site to add to that. If I never go any farther in barbeque, barbeque has been a blessing and added emensely to our lives! Yeah, I've dropped close to $25,000 in the last year (counting my smoker and BBQ van) but it's been worth it! Every penny!

If I was to list the things that have been most memorable to me in my first year of competition, I don't think I could rank them in order but the list would include:

:arrow: Meeting Jay at Warsaw and Wayne at Blue Springs in 2005 (two of the best guys in BBQ I've met who have had the biggest influence on me)

:arrow: Our first contest at the Royal

:arrow: Getting on the KCBS Results Web site for the first time

:arrow: Meeting and getting to know a lot of people who would become friends at Kookers Kare last March and helping with a great cause

:arrow: Getting our first ever call to the stage and cash at Osage City in April

:arrow: Leaning over to my wife with a dumb look on my face and saying "Did they just effin' say 'Big Creek BBQ'???" when we were announced as 3rd place at Platte City

:arrow: Going out and having dinner and getting to know Andy (HoDeDo) and his family better after the Platte City contest

:arrow: Watching Brothers Wayne and Bob and the rest of their team get their first ever Grand at Sedalia and capturing the moment on camera!

:arrow: Seeing Jeff of Bubba and Jeff's BBQ be a man of his word and strip down to his jockey shorts and run around the Sedalia contest after they won first in chicken in only their 2nd or 3rd ever contest

:arrow: Watching my daughter get her call for champion of the 5-10 year old age group at the Laurie, Missouri Kids Q (OK, that ranks #1!!!)

:arrow: Having my mom and my in-laws at a contest awards ceremony for the first time and having them see us get first in chicken and 4th in pork

:arrow: Fellowship with the Brothers who came to Kansas City in support of and to honor Scott at his passing. It was an honor to have all of you at our cook site.

:arrow: Spending a summer full of activities with my wife and daughter and having all of us making great new friends.

Just as movies end by listing credits, I'll end this by giving credit where credit is due. Big Creek BBQ would never have done what we have done and experienced what we have without the help and friendship of the following:

Getting me hooked on competitive BBQ: Brother Jay "Spicewine". I appreciate the hospitality even though I showed up right close to crunch time
Keeping me hooked on competitive BBQ: Brothers Wayne "Mokan Meathead", Bob "Where's Bob" and Andy "HoDeDo". I don't know if I've ever told you guys but I consider you right up there at the very top of my friends list! You are all three outstanding guys, great friends and quick with advice to help us! Words cannot express what you have meant to me this year!
Building a cooker I can be proud of and successful with: Of course that's Jay again! I'll never regret that decision, brother! I'll get you that photo for your Web site later this month.
Teaching me how to cook chicken: It started off as Brother Wayne who got me going with it and taught me everything he knows, hence the "Disciple of the MoKan Chicken King" thing. Then it was someone else who knows who he is but at risk of losing my balls... thanks!
Getting our pork where it places nearly every contest: We combined three things we learned from Nick with Jack's Old South, Brother MoKan Wayne and Ray Lampe to score top ten in every contest since we put it all together. Thanks guys!
Support and encouragement: The girls of Squeal of Approval. Thanks to Wayne introducing us, we have become good friends with them this year and they are always fast to encourage us and especially encourage and support our daughter in her BBQ efforts. They even told her she might be able to be a Squeal girl with them one day! She loved that!
Knowledge, Support, Friendship and lots of answers: All of you here on the Brethren site! Not in a million years would we have gone from point A (the Royal last year) to point B (today) without ALL of you!
Finally, being my partner, the best box builder I could ask for, someone to listen to me beeyotch and moan when we didn't do so well and someone to celebrate the successes with me: My wife Tammy. Without her, there wouldn't be much to Big Creek BBQ.OK so if anyone is still awake after reading all this, you need to seek immediate help! :lol: Try Tylenol PM or something! Sorry it's so long but the past year has been memorable and we won't ever forget everything that's gone on. We hope to make 2007 even better and to make more new friends and cultivate the ones we made this year! Outside of my wife and having my daughter, BBQ is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. I hope everyone gets what I've gotten out of it and more. And to any new guys reading this, you're about to set out on the ride of your life! Hang the fark on!

Jorge
10-05-2006, 12:16 PM
Outstanding post, and thanks for sharing all of that. Congrats on the well earned successes you've had!

G$
10-05-2006, 12:34 PM
Anyway, back to our first year, to summarize, we have experienced what I would consider a lot of success for a rookie team. In chicken, we have a 1st, 3rd and 4th. In ribs, we have a 7th and 9th. In pork, we have a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. In brisket, we have a 1st, 3rd and 4th. We also got a 4th in beans and a 5th in sausage. Overall, out of ten contests (with one yet to go), we have a 3rd (44 teams), 4th (35 teams), 6th (34 teams), 10th (56 teams) and a 12th (76 teams).!

Although this is not "what it is all about", I thought I'd hilight your results. Kind of incredible really. Good job.

BrooklynQ
10-05-2006, 12:36 PM
Wow. That's all I can say.

frognot
10-05-2006, 12:47 PM
Real good post, Jeff! Y'all definitely learned (and accomplished) a lwhole ot in your first year. Expecting another long post next year.

Arlin_MacRae
10-05-2006, 12:49 PM
Farking A, Jeff. Just the IDEA of making that post was a great thing. The post itself, and the story within it, were awesome.
Congrats, bro. Heartily!

Arlin

Roo-B-Q'N
10-05-2006, 12:57 PM
Thanks for the post Jeff. Char and I are still practicing and practicing and won't jump in until next year. We are both excited and scared, but posts like this get me going and excited to jump in an get cooking. Can't wait for the ride to begin!

Jeff_in_KC
10-05-2006, 01:03 PM
Farking A, Jeff. Just the IDEA of making that post was a great thing.

I mentioned credit where credit is due in my post. So the credit for this idea goes to Brother Jorge! Thanks Jorge, for inspiring me to go back and take a look at the year and put everything in perspective! You're welcome to all the Shiner Bock you can drink in my camp any time! :wink:

Pig Headed
10-05-2006, 02:06 PM
Awesome Jeff!!

Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your experiences.

SmokeInDaEye
10-05-2006, 03:44 PM
Great stuff, Jeff. I can't tell you how many of your pre-Royal posts I poured over for advice on timelines, what to bring, etc. when we decided to jump feet first into our first contest this year.

And, like you, our results weren't what we would have hoped that first time out, but this post is proof that practice and patience are the best road to success in this game. I'm already looking forward to our first full year.

Not sure that I want the wife on our team, but my 4-year-old son keeps saying "You have to do MORE bbq contests daddy. I want a big trophy!" He's destined for some Kids Q contests I think!

backyardchef
10-05-2006, 03:50 PM
Way to go, Jeff! That's quite a start. Inspiration for many of us that haven't yet competed. I love the bbq world-- as you learn, you give back.

Can't wait to read next year's installment. :biggrin:

bbqbull
10-05-2006, 05:27 PM
Jeff, ever consider writing a book? OMG dude you definately have the gift. Great story. And Im still awake. Enjoy your weekend. Great Job!

Mike

MilitantSquatter
10-05-2006, 07:11 PM
Thanks Jeff... It was a great read...

Made me think about our first year as well..

Awesome stuff Jeff !!

Sawdustguy
10-05-2006, 08:38 PM
Man, that was a great post Jeff.

SloppyQ
10-05-2006, 09:48 PM
Jeff, you probably won't read this till much later since your'e helping the MeatHeads but I want you to know and everyone here will agree, no matter how you have finished (Dude your'e a winner!). Pssss,I need your secrets.

parrothead
10-06-2006, 07:10 AM
Wow. Good write up.

Bellybro
10-06-2006, 07:42 AM
Nice Post!

MrSmoker
10-06-2006, 07:53 AM
Great post Jeff,made me reflect on my passed year. I have to say that since finding this forum my life has been changed forever. I check on my "Brothers in Smoke" first thing every mourning.

Bubba
10-06-2006, 09:18 AM
Jeff thanks for the kind words